Faculty Senate discusses AAU Campus Climate Survey, GUP, Emeriti Council report

The Faculty Senate on Thursday heard a report on the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct at Stanford. The senate also heard a presentation by President Marc Tessier-Lavigne regarding Stanford’s decision to withdraw its application for a General Use Permit and a report from the Emeriti Council.

Brian Cook speaking to the Faculty Senate

Brian Cook presenting results of the AAU Campus Climate Survey to the Faculty Senate on Thursday. (Image credit: Kate Chesley)

At its Nov. 7 meeting, the Faculty Senate heard an overview of some of the key findings of the 2019 Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct at Stanford, which was released on Oct. 15.

The senate also heard a presentation from President Marc Tessier-Lavigne regarding the university’s recent decision to withdraw its application for a General Use Permit.

Also at the meeting, the senate heard the results of a survey of emeriti faculty, prepared by the Emeriti Council.

Presentation on AAU Campus Climate Survey

In his presentation on the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, Brian Cook, director of assessment and program evaluation in Institutional Research and Decision Support, focused on several key findings of the survey:

  • 38.5 percent of undergraduate women who have attended Stanford for four years or more reported having experienced some form of nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, the inability to consent, coercion or without voluntary agreement.
  • About 80 percent of the perpetrators of nonconsensual sexual contact were other Stanford students, and about 50 percent of all nonconsensual sexual contact occurred in Stanford dorms and residence halls.
  • Undergraduate, graduate and professional students who listed their gender identity as TGQN – transgender, nonbinary/genderqueer, gender questioning, or gender not listed – reported high levels of sexual violence and harassment, and particularly low levels of connection to the campus community.
  • TGQN students – undergraduate, graduate and professional – reported comparatively high rates of harassment incidents in which faculty or academic/research staff were involved.
  • Some 44 percent of students reported a lack of trust in the institution to conduct what are perceived as fair investigations of sexual violence and harassment.
  • 20 percent of students experienced sexual harassment since entering Stanford.
  • Students reached out to university resources for a low proportion of incidents of sexual violence and harassment, highlighting the need for faculty, staff and the whole campus community to be more informed and supportive of students connecting to the resources available to help them in these situations.
  • Students feel a lack of connection to the campus community generally, and especially to faculty, staff and administrators.

Cook said his presentation did not include information from the report about stalking and intimate partner violence, but he encouraged faculty members to look at those two sections of the report.

He said Stanford is now examining the data further and looking specifically at issues of greatest concern on campus.

“We’re hoping to get out a second set of analyses in winter quarter,” he said.

In response to a question, Cook said one place where Stanford looks different than the other schools that took part in the survey is on the issue of sexual harassment, where Stanford’s numbers are significantly higher than the average.

In answer to a question about data showing faculty harassment of TGQN students, Cook said the survey measured very specific sets of behaviors, including making inappropriate or offensive comments about someone’s body, sexual remarks and crude jokes.

The behaviors aren’t just misunderstanding or not respecting who the person is, he said. “There’s something about being a TGQN student on our campus and in their interactions with our faculty that is a very serious thing for our students.”

On the issue of sexual harassment, Lauren Schoenthaler, senior associate vice provost for institutional equity and access in the Office of Equity and Access, said she agreed with the comment that Stanford has more work to do with undergraduate students.

While noting that the university’s program on sexual violence for incoming undergraduate students has received national recognition, Schoenthaler said it should be expanded to include a focus on sexual harassment as well. Students need to know that sexual violence is different from sexual harassment, she said, “although they’re all weeds in the same ugly garden. I do think we need to be focusing more on that in coming years, so we’re going to be doing that.”

Schoenthaler noted that all Stanford supervisors, including faculty members, are required to participate in sexual harassment prevention training every other year. Beginning in 2020, she said, that requirement will also apply to non-supervisory employees under a new California law.


President’s remarks on GUP

Tessier-Lavigne told the senate that he remains confident about Stanford’s future, despite the university’s recent withdrawal of its application for a new General Use Permit from Santa Clara County, following three years of discussions.

Stanford, which withdrew its application on Nov. 1, posted the official announcement of its decision on the university’s website that same day.

The proposed permit would have allowed the university to expand the availability of housing, including affordable housing, and to gradually build new academic facilities at a rate of about 1 percent per year to support its mission. The proposal also included a range of features to limit traffic congestion, protect open space, promote sustainable development and provide accountability measures to the community.

Tessier-Lavigne said agreement could not be reached on two components key to Stanford’s long-term planning: feasible conditions of approval for the permit, including traffic requirements; and a development agreement that offered investment in local community benefits in exchange for assurance that the rules and regulations governing development won’t be changed over the life of the permit.

Tessier-Lavigne said the recent turn of events does not diminish Stanford’s aspirations as a university, and does not diminish the university’s commitment to the campus community and to its local community.

“While the withdrawal of the application certainly impacts our ability to add buildings on campus, we have taken this step with an understanding of the variety of options available to the university for its space needs,” he said.

Noting that the university will be assessing possible options in detail in the future, he said they will include:

  • Continuing to build some academic facilities with the square footage remaining under the existing permit.
  • Potentially constructing new facilities without adding net new square footage by removing older or obsolete facilities.
  • Exploring possible projects outside of the main campus such as adding square footage at the Stanford Redwood City campus.
  • Possibly modifying the existing General Use Permit to seek approval for specific building projects. Any modification would require approval from the appropriate county authority, Tessier-Lavigne noted.
  • At some point in the future, put forth a new long-term land use plan for the campus. “However, we don’t currently have plans to do that and we’re taking this moment to assess all aspects of our strategic facility and programmatic needs,” Tessier Lavigne said.

“I also want to note that in the past year our long-range planning process has identified priorities for supporting people and academic programs at our university that will inform our planning for facilities,” he said.

“Our focus is going to be on supporting and advancing the mission of the university and I want to assure you we’ll be working closely with the faculty and other members of our community as  we do this. And we’re committed to informing and involving the entire campus community and our neighbors as we press forward.”


Emeriti Council

Also at the meeting, Iris F. Litt, chair of the Stanford Emeriti Council, research director of the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute and the Marron and Mary Elizabeth Kendrick Professor in Pediatrics, Emerita, presented the results of the first-ever survey of emeriti faculty members.

In the survey, which was conducted in May 2019, the council found that emeriti faculty continue to be academically productive after retirement, including publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, being recalled to active duty, teaching, mentoring, serving on dissertation committees and a few holding full-time positions at other universities.

According to the survey, some retired faculty members also serve on the boards of companies and community agencies, and as industry consultants.

The vast majority of emeriti faculty who responded to the survey described their health as “excellent,” “very good” or “good.” Most emeriti faculty also reported engaging in the arts and regular recreational activities – individually, and with friends and partners.

When asked for personal reflections on their experience, some emeriti faculty members said they were not well prepared for their sudden “invisibility” following long and distinguished careers at Stanford. Some commented about missing the intellectual stimulation of colleagues and a desire to have a community.

To help address those issues, Litt said the council will reach out to peer institutions to learn about their emeriti programs, and will develop a strategic plan outlining how Stanford could put the wisdom and experience of emeriti to use as part-time teachers and mentors.

The full minutes of the senate meeting, including discussion that followed the presentations, will be posted on the Faculty Senate website. The next senate meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21.